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Controversy: The Vox Day Quote

Updated to clean up some awkward phrasing (9/21/11 @ 8:30am EDT)

Alex has had some strong words to say regarding my recent posting of a Vox Day quote and labeling it as the best quote ever.

He said the quote was ignorant and stupid.  I told everyone that it was meant humorously and to please lighten up.  Then, he said posting the quote makes me look stupid:

Oh, I always have fun, however that shouldn’t justify stupidity. And it’s a bit scary that the quote is supposed to be awesome in a theistic perspective; you’re embracing unsubstantiated and stupid claims, said in a poor way, using words he doesn’t understand. And you think that is awesome? No, Cory, it makes you look stupid next to it, and hopefully that isn’t what you intended.

And then he tries to shame me into investigating why by bringing up my recent declaration that I seek truth.

But, I don’t think the quote is stupid or that it makes me look stupid.  I’m going to examine why that is, but first, I would like to whine.

Why do I have to justify everything I do to atheists?  None of them justify a single argument, even when I’ve asked.  All I ever seem to get is the whole burden-of-proof-is-on-me-the-theist talking point.  Fine.  But in a court case, the defense still presents an argument.  So man up and stop asserting stuff with no justification.

The reason I whined about that is because that is all Alex does.  Specifically, between two comments in that post, he asserts that the quote:

  • is a remarkably stupid example of argument from ignorance
  • demonstrates poor understanding of the concepts touched on
  • makes unsubstantiated assertions
  • misuses “esoteric”
  • states its point poorly

None of his own claims are substantiated, yet I’m about to expound on why I think this is a great quote.  Fine, let’s get this over with.

First, I believe this quote is meant humorously.  If not, then there is a problem.  If Vox is being funny, then great.  I think it is really, really funny.  It’s funny because, shock and surprise, we theists really do think atheists are profoundly wrong!

If this is meant as a humorous aside, then it was directed at fellow believers.  Thus, assertion works well because we all already believe, wholeheartedly and beyond a reasonable doubt, that atheists are dead wrong.

I am saying that they [atheists] are wrong, they are reliably, verifiably, and factually incorrect.

Agreed.  Atheists are wrong.  If they were not “reliably, verifiably, and factually incorrect,” then ministries like this would not exist.

Richard Dawkins is wrong. Daniel C. Dennett is wrong.

Yes, Dawkins has been refuted numerous times — especially where his conception of God is concerned.  If God were a material and contingent being, then Dawkins refuted him nicely.  God is neither, so The God Delusion stands as a spectacle to laugh at rather than a philosophical work to be taken seriously.

Dennett is more complex in his treatment of religion, and someone I’m more apt to take seriously.  But I can’t comment much more than that, as generic as that is, because I haven’t read Breaking the Spell.  I’ve wanted to, even if I am familiar with the argument that evolution produced religion (I don’t particularly find it convincing, but I want to read Dennett’s work because he is the only philosopher of the group and thus the best-equipped to propose and defend such an argument).

Christopher Hitchens is drunk, and he’s wrong.

One of the reasons why I think this quote is meant as humor.  Hitchens is a drinker, and there has been at least one YouTube video I’m aware of showing him as an angry drunk trying to fight a priest.  He had to be carried out by the police.

I’ve never cheated on my wife, but I window shop more frequently than I should.  So draw a cartoon of me at my computer blogging about the sinfulness of masturbation in the first frame, then in the second frame show me oogling a bikini-clad woman as I think, “Take a mental snapshot for later… heh, heh, heh.”  Or, since I’m a Calvinist, I could think, “If I jerk it while thinking about her later, God foreordained it so he really can’t hold it against me…”

The captions could be funnier, but I digress.  I’m a public figure (of sorts), and thus I have opened myself to being parodied — gently and viciously.  And, the Hitch is a drinker and is open to a mocking comment like Vox’s, just as I would be open to being painted as a voyeur or a womanizer while writing that both are sins in some Christian Apologist SNL-like sketch.

Michel Onfray is French, and he’s wrong.

As above.  This is hilarious because of the non sequitur aspect.  Being French has nothing to do with right or wrong.  Neither does being drunk have an impact on right or wrong (though drunk people do have a tendency to misread reality).

Sam Harris is so superlatively wrong that it will require the development of esoteric mathematics operating simultaneously in multiple dimensions to fully comprehend the orders of magnitude of his wrongness.

This is the funniest of the group.  I’m sorry, but I fail to see how “esoteric” is used incorrectly.  “Esoteric” means “hidden, secret, open only to a select few.”  Basically, Vox is saying that to calculate how wrong Harris is, we’d have to invent whole new mathematics never thought of, and I believe it is said with some humorous panache.  Esoteric helps accomplish that.

Now, if this was not meant humorously, and Vox was not just trying for a chuckle from fellow believers, I could see why Alex says this quote makes Vox (and me, by reposting it) look stupid.  That could well be the case: that Vox meant this seriously.  I only have the quote, not the context in which he said it.  If someone could offer the context, that might be illuminating.

Here’s the bottom line.  The quote assumes that atheists are wrong.  That’s not really controversial among believers, because we do believe that atheists are very, very, very wrong.  Instead of saying why atheists are wrong — not necessary when directed at believers — the quote pokes some fun at prominent atheists.

So, are the exceptions taken to this quote that:

  1. A theist made a statement that pokes fun at atheists
  2. A theist assumed atheists were wrong without offering an argument
  3. The quote is structured and stated inelegantly and awkwardly
  4. Vox Day is an idiot, and anything he says should be classified as such

If I’m still missing it, please argue and don’t offer bald assertions!  I’ve defended my position, please do me the same courtesy if I’m missing something.

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About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on September 21, 2011, in Humor, Quotes and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Oh my goodness, there’s just so much wrong with this post that I don’t know where to start. However, I don’t have time to write a rebuttal right now (but I might later do it, piece by piece) but in short ;

    1. You are whining about people whining.
    2. You claim I try to shame you, pointing to a post I’ve never read.
    3. You continue to claim things true without explaining why they’re true.
    4. You end with “please argue and don’t offer bald assertions!” which is the very reason I bothered posting in the first place; the quote offered bold assertions without argumentation, and without the arguments, it and you by extension look stupid, *especially* because you said it was not just awesome, but awesome in a theological way.

    I’ll write up a longer version of this later, but I’m just shocked at just how wrong you can get things at times and just how far removed from basic rationalism you appear to be stuck at.

    • Maybe you shouldn’t bother, because the short version of your rebuttal demonstrates that we are talking so far past each other that this is obviously going to waste time and bandwidth.

      1. So what?
      2. You absolutely did try to shame me.
      3. That’s not the point at all: the quote isn’t offering an argument, and was directed at people who Vox wouldn’t have needed to argue the assertions with in the first place.
      4. The quote is NOT trying to argue anything (how many times am I going to have to say that?)

      If you want to keep going, by all means. I’m not the one who is being irrational.

  2. Corey:
    Loved the quote. Love Vox’s books and statements. Most of these atheists are so inane with their statements that I’m surprised that anyone takes them seriously. They make fun of Christians in broad daylight; if they dish it out, then they can take it. Don’t let up on ’em.

    Alex: take a Prozac and relax.

    Love, Mr. G

    • I’m wild guessing that Alex doesn’t like us theists who “believe in sky fairies and happy endings” telling him he’s being irrational. For some reason, anytime a theist says something that a roomful of people would generally agree upon, we’re still expected to defend it. I could say that the sky is blue and some atheist would ask me to prove it just because I’m a theist.

      Why can be summed up by the following mathematical equation:

      Theism = Intellectual Dishonesty

      I don’t believe that’s even remotely true. But it underpins many atheist arguments against theists. (Not theism, theists.) We must lie to ourselves to believe in God. We’re wrong about God, therefore we’re wrong about everything else. Uh, nope. Sorry.

  3. > 1. So what?

    Because it makes you look really, really stupid.

    > 2. You absolutely did try to shame me.

    You are lying. I thought you guys wasn’t supposed to do that?

    > 3. and 4. […]

    “Cory is the most ignorant of them all.” I can only assume that the quote here is perfectly fine, that no context should be offered, and no arguments required.

    Good, I think we’re done.

    • 1. Argue why it makes me look stupid because I spent 1100 words showing why I didn’t think so.

      2. So not lying. You said:

      You know, most people when they hear that a quote they produced was stupid and that they look stupid next to it would look into the reasons for why that might be. It isn’t always that the opposing side is wrong just because you don’t normally see it their way; some times they are absolutely right, and if you take the pursuit of truth seriously, then you should take this seriously as well. The quote makes you look stupid. Deal with it, or embrace it.

      Each boldface portion is an attempt to shame me. Telling me that “most people” in my circumstance would behave differently is attempting to exert pressure on me to conform, and fall in the line you think I should take.

      In a recent post, I stated that I take the pursuit of truth seriously. You are harkening back to that with the same language, using my words against me in an effort to suggest that I don’t actually pursue truth. It so perfectly lines up with a statement I made recently that I’m having a hard time believing you didn’t read the post. If you indeed did not, then your timing is too perfect. (If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck …)

      Finally, you tell me that if I’m not going to search out an answer, then I should just embrace the fact that I look stupid.

      If you weren’t shaming me, then your actual attempts to do so would likely reduce even Hulk Hogan to a blubbering mess of quivering tears and a desire to eat a large caliber rifle. Because this non-attempt is a case study in how to shame people.

      3 – 4. If you would like to offer that without context (I think it speaks for itself, actually) then go for it. Offering it on your blog to your fellow atheists would probably get high ratings and much congratulations from them, as I can name several atheists on Twitter that think I’m a complete idiot and say so repeatedly.

      Most likely, I would just roll my eyes and move on. I’ve been called far worse by more prominent members of the atheist community (ask Austin Cline of atheism.about.com what he thinks about me, and I’m sure that the four-letter words would outnumber the mundane words). Pithy proverb-like quotes are just that: pithy, proverb-like quotes. If you disagree, then disagree. But don’t expect an argument when the speaker is going for a succinct comedic effect. Especially when he’s directing it at an audience of people who already share his conviction that atheists are wrong.

  4. You know you told me not to bother arguing? What exactly is your preference? I’m confused.

    1. I don’t understand which part of this is hard for you to understand. If you whine about other people whining, the word for that is hypocrite, and that indeed makes you look stupid.

    2. “Each boldface portion is an attempt to shame me.” You are becoming an increasingly sly and dishonest person, and your previous claims to pursue nothing but truth is falling apart with every sentence you utter about why I – a person who tells you directly that I’m not trying to shame you – apparently try to shame you. Not only that, but I suspect your definition of shaming people is rather far removed from mine. Urging you to engage with my arguments because that’s what I would expect of smart people is not – in any stretch of the imagination, except of certain types of people – a means to shaming them. And, just so that we’re semantically clear with other concepts, this falls into the same bucket that insults do; it requires people to make active decisions to be insulted, and it takes you an active decision to be shamed. I feel that what you’re doing now is to try your hardest to drag attention away from what I actually said, and into the dimmer forest of the Chewbacca argument.

    Still on point 2, you say “In a recent post, I stated that I take the pursuit of truth seriously. You are harkening back to that with the same language” but you simply can’t mean that seriously when I haven’t read the darn thing (unless, of course, you’re deliberately being dishonest). Don’t you get it? I can’t hark back to it, refer to it, or use your sentiments of it, I don’t use it, don’t know about, because I simply haven’t read it. But you state, in your post, that I had and this is what I used as a weapon of choice. And then I pointed out that how can I use that weapon if I have never seen it? I was pointing out a flaw in your reasoning, and you should deal with that rather than keep harping on a defunct argument.

    “If you weren’t shaming me, then your actual attempts to do so would likely reduce even Hulk Hogan to a blubbering mess of quivering tears and a desire to eat a large caliber rifle. Because this non-attempt is a case study in how to shame people.”

    I can only take from this that you’re a big wimp. And yet I feel your dishonesty creeping in, whispering an equivalence of ‘bullshit’ in my ear; I don’t believe you for a second. All I did was a call to the pursuit of truth, and you’re trembling at the knees, pointing fingers at me for doing so? Are you kidding me?

    Cory, snap out of it, I know you can do better than that. My arguments weren’t complicated nor sinister nor about shaming you, they were not threatening nor ignorant of the issues, they were no such thing. They were a commentary on a stupid thing you said, and I’ll paint it out for you to make it absolutely clear (so forget all this padding we’ve created), as you said (in your first comment on the previous post);

    “Alex, it’s awesome from the THEISTIC perspective”

    No, Cory, you should not make it so pathetic, so simplistic. I speak with lots of theists who are outright embarrassed by this and similar quotes, it simply puts you in a really stupid light, on par with “God hates fags!” picketing. (But you’re right that there’s a LOT of theists who are perfectly happy to be ignorant and stupid about, you know, how words form sentences and what their contents semantically mean and fossils and facts and stuff) The quote is a display of religious overzealous fervor, it speaks outrage and intolerance towards people who’s not in your gang (it smacks of polarization), and it attacks people rather than ideas, but most importantly it communicates a complete lack of rationalization and grasp of reality, and paints its author and fans as arrogant and stupid. The theistic world do not consists only of ignorant and intolerant people, some of them are quite smart and nice.

    One more thing; I said “Certainly you could bring forth some quotes that don’t paint you believers in such a silly way?”

    Remember what you claimed your quote to be; AWESOME! And not only that, but from a Theistic view! Awesome! Like, “they are reliably, verifiably, and factually incorrect.”

    If you can’t see just how completely, utterly and fantastically stupid a statement that is, then you are beyond help. Do I really need to go through each of those words and point out the stupidity of a) painting with big brushes, b) using rhetoric only your own posse could appreciate (using the most black and white language known to history), c) claiming to be more verifiable and factual than science which invented those terms, and d) trying to claim correctness for a religious belief that don’t hold up to any of science’s standards?

    The whole quote was the stupid opinion of a guy who are very good at pandering to the ignorant and arrogant. And my call was to say that, surely, you’re better than that?

  5. Cory is right. Alexander just give logical arguments, if you don’T know what it is go read and learn to logical fallacies. You make a big deal out of a simple issue.

  6. Atheism stand on no logical argument whatsoever. The strongest argument is the argumentum ad ignorantiam, which is not even a valid argument..

    The quote was factually correct until the Sam Harris part… ”I am saying that they are wrong, they are reliably, verifiably, and factually incorrect. Richard Dawkins is wrong. Daniel C. Dennett is wrong. Christopher Hitchens is drunk, and he’s wrong. Michel Onfray is French, and he’s wrong. Sam Harris is so superlatively wrong that it will require the development of esoteric mathematics operating simultaneously in multiple dimensions to fully comprehend the orders of magnitude of his wrongness.”

    Of course it is no surprised to see Yet another whiny butt-hurt atheist not being able to recognise the only rational stance, is agnosticism.

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